It was a surprisingly subdued appearance for Rivers, who won her season of the reality competition in 2009. Known for her quick wit and sharp tongue, Rivers spent most of the episode’s first hour – during which she served as a guest in Donald Trump‘s famed boardroom – on the sidelines as the teams scrabbled to pull together a mobile shoe boutique.
Monday’s episode marks the first of multiple appearances, with another set for February, that Rivers filmed for the show before her sudden death in September at the age of 81.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka, whose shoe collection formed the centerpiece of this week’s project, previously told PEOPLE that Rivers was “very warm and very maternal and very protective of all of the contestants.”
Indeed, Rivers praised the “energy, force and decisiveness” of competitors Vivica A. Fox and Geraldo Rivera, particularly affirming Fox’s “great leadership” – even as the second-time project manager was forced to bring two teammates into the boardroom.
After the episode aired, Rivers’s daughter and fellow Apprentice competitor Melissa tweeted her thanks to the Trumps for their “kindness and support.”